Lebron steps up; Celtics wilt

Who saw this one coming?

After Miami came back against the Pacers, we had to be ready for a possible comeback in game 6 against the Celtics. This team has played well with their backs against the wall. But this really wasn’t about the Heat. I’ve watched Lebron James enough in Cleveland and last season to noticed when he’s about to flake during a game, but he was locked in from the beginning last night. He wasn’t playful. He wasn’t emotional. He was just locked in and focused on basketball. All the talk about his supporting cast, Bosh’s injury or Wade’s play isn’t really relevant. The main variable in the potential success of the Heat has to do with Lebron’s head. If Lebron doesn’t flake out, the Heat easily win last year, and Lebron also could have won a championship with the Cavs. It all comes down on him.

Last night was a big night for Lebron, but he’s had a lot of big nights in the regular season and in the playoffs. None of this matters unless he also leads Miami to a win in game 7, and then plays well in the Finals. Also, his outside shot was falling last night, and we all know that Lebron is pretty much unstoppable when he can hit his outside shot. But when he cools off he sometimes goes into a funk.

The problem this year is that Lebron and the Heat will be running up against a team in the Oklahoma City Thunder that just may be better than the Heat, even if Lebron plays up to his ability and doesn’t flake out. Kevin Durant is a superstar, and he’s surrounded by a gang of young studs that can match up with the Heat when it comes to athleticism. Also, Durant doesn’t need a sports psychologist to get him through the Finals.

So there won’t be much room for error for Lebron if he makes it to the Finals. Don’t crown him king just yet.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Heat start season with lame video and solid play

It’s easy to hate these guys when you watch this lame video. It’s almost as bad as the party they threw when the Big Three signed their contracts with the Heat last season. After choking last year against the Mavericks, you would think that a somewhat different tone would be in order.

But LeBron wants to have fun this year. He didn’t do so well as the villain, so the dopey kid is back and his teammates are joining in on the fun.

That aside, however, after two games it does look like LeBron is taking the game seriously this year. He and Wade and shying away from three-pointers and they’re focusing on transition baskets and post-up moves. It’s a shame it’s taken LeBron this long to figure it out, but I guess a humiliating meltdown in front of the world in the Finals will do that do you.

Now we shouldn’t get carried away after two games, as the Heat ran past two older teams. The Mavs have new players and haven’t had any time to work together. They have to win as a team like they did last year. Also, LeBron always looks good in the regular season. Sure, he’s working on developing better habits, but we’ve seen him lose focus during crunch time before.

This team is talented, and they’ll battle for the best record. But none of it matters. They have to win it all. Anything else is a failure.

Chris Bosh confronts Skip Bayless on “First Take”

Bayless gave Chris Bosh the nickname “Bosh Spice,” and Bosh came on “First Take” to talk to him about it.

LeBron clarifies post-Finals comments

Miami Heat’s LeBron James speaks during a media conference for the NBA Finals basketball series against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Texas June 8, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL HEADSHOT)

After Game 6, LeBron had this to say about the people that were rooting against the Heat:

“All the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today,” James said Sunday.

“They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point.”

To many, that sounded like LeBron was playing the “I’m richer/better than you” card, so at the end of the day, if you found any joy in the Heat’s struggles, you still have to go on with your day-to-day life while LeBron goes back to being a multi-millionaire. It was a clear shot at the “haters,” and it’s somewhat understandable that LeBron would want to lash out after all the criticism he has taken over the past couple of weeks.

On Tuesday, LeBron clarified his statements.

“Basically I was saying at the end of the day this season is over and — with all hatred — everyone else has to move on with their lives, good or bad. I do too,” James said.

“It wasn’t saying I’m superior or better than anyone else, any man or woman on this planet, I’m not. I would never ever look at myself bigger than anyone who watched our game. It may have come off wrong but that wasn’t my intent.”

Of course he thinks he’s better than the average American, but I’d suspect that, deep down, most professional athletes feel that way.

What LeBron needs to understand is that he brought most of this criticism on himself. Had he announced his decision to sign with the Heat in the same way Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh did, he wouldn’t have been under nearly as much scrutiny as he was this summer. We still hold “The Decision” against him because it was an ego trip that tore the heart out of the city of Cleveland on national television. He may have had good intentions, but those intentions don’t matter.

LeBron isn’t going to be able to move on until he accepts some responsibility for the hatred that is aimed his way. If he had come out and said that “The Decision” was a well-intentioned mistake and apologized to the city of Cleveland for the way he handled his announcement, it would go a long way in repairing his image.

Bissinger defends LeBron

Buzz Bissinger (author, blog-hater) is not happy to learn that LeBron James is the most disliked athlete in the country.

Why is he hated more than Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was accused of sexual assault and is considered a stone-cold jerk by most players in the National Football League? Why is he hated more than recently resigned Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, who under the cloak of being a good Christian did nothing about his players breaking rules as long as his team won? Why is he hated more than Chris Webber, who pleaded guilty to criminal contempt amid a payoff scandal at the University of Michigan and whose conduct was instrumental in the Wolverines forfeiting 112 basketball games in the 1990s? (Ironically Webber, doing commentary for NBA TV, joyfully nailed James during the finals.)

Yes, we all know that James left Cleveland without grace or class. Yes, we know that the Heat, in some ridiculous version of a Las Vegas floor show, had the big three of James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh greeting Miami fans in a raucous pep rally as if they had already won the championship before the season had even started.

Yes, millions of fans, including myself, were upset by the arrogance and self-centeredness with which James handled it all. On the other hand, James wanted to go to the place where he thought he had the best chance of winning. Where should he have gone? The Golden State Warriors? Why stay in Cleveland?

Read the rest of the piece at The Daily Beast.

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